Monthly Archives: September 2013

Hang Your Head

ELEPHANT HEADS

I stumbled on this really cool site called White Faux Taxidermy recently. I know what you’re thinking — taxidermy? Really? The key word is actually Faux, not taxidermy. Basically they sell resin sculptures made to look ultra realistic, here’s some info about how it’s done:

Resin Animal Heads Are Artwork, Not Stuffed
Resin animal heads do not have any actual animal parts. Rather, they are handcrafted artistic pieces that are made to look like animal head mounts. These modernistic taxidermy specimens do not involve a carcass. . . . These mounts are crafted using detailed photos and measurements of an animal. (Sometimes the animal is stored and then released after measuring and photography; sometimes the creator simply acquires the photos and specifications). From that point, the faux taxidermist creates a resin or fiberglass sculpture of the chosen animal, whether that is a deer, a bear or an elephant.

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They make a wide variety of animals available in many different colors and finishes. And best of all they are very affordable. For example, a small bear head starts at just $30 and the larger one is only $95. Cruise around their website to see exactly what they have, it’s time well spent. These are great alternatives to the $500+ pieces professional decorators routinely use in their work. They have some ‘serious’ sculptures as well as some more fun and playful ones. And remember, these heads can hang anywhere from your dining room walls to above little Billy’s toy box, so be sure to check them all out!

Business Meets Pleasure

Most people have a place in their home dedicated to paperwork, bills, or record keeping (is that still a thing?). Actually, most people SHOULD have that. In reality I’m guessing most people don’t. We do our bills in the kitchen or dining room, maybe at work or in bed, pretty much wherever we can spread out a little. And that’s when things start to get messy. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a little corner somewhere in your home to keep the important paper work so it doesn’t get lost in the daily rubble of junk mail and credit card offers?

I know what you’re thinking — “That’s great but I don’t have enough space in my home for another desk just for bills and papers.”—I get it. What if I told you you could not only keep your bills safe, but also your booze! BINGO! SOLD! SIGN ME UP!

Look at this great little Patchwork Secretary from West Elm.

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This piece is not that large, only about 49″ tall and long X 20″ deep, not too big at all. It is however, awesome! It truly is business meeting pleasure, just be careful they don’t meet too often or your finances will be in big trouble!

Now for the bad news. The bar/desk is currently selling for $1,400!!!!! Yowsers! West Elm carries a whole line of this Patchwork style with different colored wood panels on the facade of different pieces of furniture. A very trendy modern look that may not be for everyone, but certainly is for me. There’s a dresser, armoire, nightstand, and secretary also available in this same style. But again, they are not cheap by any means. However, West Elm is always running sales and discounts, so if you hit it at the right time it could be worth the splurge!

Reclining in Style

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For those of us who grew up with reclining sofas and sectionals there really was no replacement for comfort. You could recline your little section of the sofa, flip open the arm rest to have a place to put your drink and a holder for your remote. Your typical reclining sofa is about 30 feet long and 20 feet wide with the same depth as a your average 55 chevy. In other words, they’re big.

While these behemoths may be fine for a basement, man cave, or home theater room, they really don’t belong in your average size living room anymore. Of course that doesn’t mean you should feel like you are in grandmas parlor sitting on plastic wrapped furniture. Comfort should be top priority in your own living room, especially when you just want to kick back and relax. That being said here’s another way to think about the reclining sofa. What made it great was that you had your choice of kicking up your feet on the footrest or sitting upright. The simple solution to that is get a comfy couch and place a comfy ottoman in front of it. That way you can still decide if you want to ‘recline’ and slack off or sit up and pay attention!

Here’s a nice comfortable sofa that I paired with three different ottoman choices. The gray sofa can be somewhat dark so I tried pairing it up with a bright striped ottoman or a solid lighter toned one. The striped one certainly looks the best to me, but for many homes that color scheme won’t work or will be too much. If that’s the case stick to the neutral tones. By the way, all three of these ottomans are available at CB2, links are below:

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A. The Thomas Sofa from inMod is pricey at $1,500. I’m not suggesting you go out and buy this exact sofa, I am just using it as a base to show you how to combine both comfort and style at the same time. But, it is a very nice sofa and comes in several different fabrics.

B. From CB2 this little Parlor ottoman is $399 and the tweed fabric adds a nice touch of texture to your room. There is also a similar one in atomic orange also for $399 if you need that big pop of color.

C. My favorite choice is this Batao Stripped sectional ottoman also from CB2 for $549. The larger square size (37″) makes it a great ottoman/coffee table combo. The colorful stripes won’t look great in every room, but certainly add to the fun and playfulness of this piece.

D. A brighter and larger option is this 38.5″ Lotus Natural Ottoman for $499. Notice the bent chrome legs which add a sense of modernity. This is a larger piece so make sure you measure your space before you order anything. Nothing worse than getting this home only to discover you can’t fit it in front of your sofa without moving it every time!

CASE STUDY – MUSIC ROOM

PROBLEM: How do you fit a baby grand piano, two accent chairs, a side table, a floor lamp, an area rug, and accessories all in a 12 X 14 room? I don’t know yet, but I’m gonna figure it out.

The client wants the room to be elegant, but simple, with clean lines. There’s not a lot of space to work with, in fact the room really only has two walls. The third wall is mostly windows and the fourth ‘wall’ is actually the archway to enter the room. Making things even more difficult is the fact that there will be a baby grand piano occupying most of the 168 sq feet.

SOLUTION: So what does one do when space is this limited? The answer is scale down. People have a tendency today to buy oversized furniture far too often. Part of the problem is that when we shop for furniture we usually see it in a giant store the size of a warehouse. Only when the pieces are delivered to our 12 X 14 rooms do we realize our eyes were bigger than our floor plans! We end up with giant sofas and enormous coffee tables that make it so we can’t even walk into the room anymore. So the plan with this room will be to make sure the items we place in it are the right size. Take a look at the sketch below which illustrates what sort of furniture and decor we should be aiming for as a guide. Also, as a bonus all the items you see (except for the Steinway piano and Benjamin Moore paint) are available from Overstock.com. One stop shopping, you can’t beat that!

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Here’s what’s what:

A. Bottoms up! We might as well start with the foundation. There will be hardwood flooring in this room which is a big plus for any room to start with. However, we need to give the room a little softening up, and one of the best ways to do that is with this gold Metropolis area rug. The rug isn’t meant to occupy the whole room, but rather to go under the seating area we are creating. It has a timeless Moroccan pattern and is a steal at $150.

B. The baby grand! Pianos can sometimes be a nightmare to work around, especially if you find yourself having to move it one too many times. On the flip side, they do provide a sense of classicism to a home as well as fill it with wonderful sounds, hopefully. If nothing else pianos can act as big shelves to display your curios!

C. Paint in the Butt. One of the hardest things to figure out in any room is what color to paint the walls. The client said she wanted a white with slate gray scheme. My suggestion is this palette from Benjamin Moore. The lighter gray called silver spring has just enough of that hint of slate blue but still keeps a very neutral tone. Match that with the much lighter steam color and you have a great base to start building your room.

D. Light it up! This Nova Lighting tripod floor lamp will make a great addition to the corner slightly behind the seating area. It should provide enough light for reading or just sitting back and listening to the music. It’s a bit pricier than I would like at $284, but still within reach. You might be able to find a cheaper version that looks very similar, so do your research before you buy.

E and F. Travel in pairs. Here are a couple of somewhat matching black vases that can be added to the room, be it on the side table, or perhaps on a corner shelf. The taller Tung Chi vase is 14″ tall while the shorter Jar is 12″ tall. Both cost $63 each.

G. Have a seat. These accent chairs are a great size for a smaller more crowded space. The Safavieh Noho Lounge Chair is about 30″ high X 30″ wide and 25″ deep and costs only $228 each. Buy two of them to create a nice seating area while saving on space AND money! These chairs have very simple lines. The fact that they are armless will help give the room a sense of having even more space. The white piping and buttons are a great touch that adds some contrast the the gray fabric.

H. Table time. I really like this gold table. Gold is in again so don’t be afraid to use it. This great little side table is also made by Safavieh and sells for only $130. It’s about 20″ high X 17″ wide and 12″ deep. This is a perfect size for a small vase, a cup of coffee, or just a place to rest your book. The top is actually mirrored so it will reflect a lot of light brightening up the room even more. The elegant gold color of the table against the gray side chairs and wall will compliment each other nicely. The lines in this table are as clean and sharp as they come. The straight verticals and horizontals will be a good contrast to the curved line of the side chairs.

I. Soften with Color. While I think the chairs may be great by themselves, you may find that they need a little more cushion. My suggestion is to add a pop of color with this set of two pillows made by Key Lipstick which sell for $70. The rich, deep, red color add a bit of luxury and elegance to the room, while the gold embroidery helps pick up the warmth from the rug and side table.

JUST BOUGHT

The dining room renovation is still in the planning stage, but I just picked up this great chandelier from Joss & Main for $157, actually a bit more once you add tax and shipping!

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It is a 10-light version that measures 14″ X 17″, perfect for a small room like mine. They also have a larger 12 light version for $220 and a smaller 6 light version for $330. I am not sure why the smallest version is the most expensive though? I’ll keep you posted when it arrives and finally gets hung up.

If you REALLY like the sputnik style they also have a floor lamp ($253), desk lamp ($167), and wall sconce ($54) available as well. But to me, the chandelier is really where it’s at!

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If you’re interested in these deals you better act quick, the sale ends in about 22 hours!

I’m Stumped!

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I was going to call this post Stool Sample, but I couldn’t bring myself to write that as a headline. Stools, particularly wooden stools, have been around since the earliest human sat down in the woods on a fallen tree. Usually when I think of a stump stool I picture some cabin in the woods, surrounded by flannel blankets and hunting gear, where some old man is sitting on an old tree stump he hauled in from the forest. He’s not using it for the aesthetic style as much as he is for the pure function. A simple round base with a flat top for him to rest his legs while he guts fish, or whittles pipes, or whatever camping folk do these days. Maybe he just sits there while he’s on his iPad, who knows.

Now there are thousands of styles of stools available today made from countless varieties of material. Sure there’s wood (natural and man-made), plastic, acrylic, metal, leather, cotton, ceramic, hell even bean bag style stools, but what can really make a statement today are these stump stools. It’s odd to see them out of their natural environment, or at least out of the cabins, but adding these little seating elements to your home can make for a great conversation piece as well as a functional stool or table.

Take a look at a few I found today:

This one is available from West Elm for $199. It’s a very natural color wood, because it is natural, and is a perfect height to serve as both a side table or stool at 19″ high X 12.5″ wide. Place this in front of a sofa or next to a chair, maybe even in the corner as a lamp table or in your entry way as a place to throw your keys and mail when you walk in the house, or sit down to put your shoes on before you go out.

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Here’s an option from KALON STUDIOS starting at $85 for the small size (8.5″ wide X 12″ high) and $350 for the large (12″ wide X 17″ high). Made of maple or ash depending on availability and then dried and sanded to keep it’s natural color and tone, these are some pretty sleek looking stools. They kind of look like big teeth to me, but that adds to their cool factor! Check out the rest of the Kalon Studios website for some more really cool wooden furniture.

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Lastly there’s this molten silver looking stool available from Amazon for $325. This is definitely my favorite of the three. The stool measures 20″ X 18″ and is cast from a real log then manufactured in resin and hand finished in silver-leaf. Sounds very expensive, and it certainly isn’t cheap, but I still think it’s a good deal at this price. The silver leafing provides a real modern feel to the stump, yet the natural texture makes it still seem very organic.

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So as you can see from the three examples above, a tree stump can be so much more than a place to gut your fish!

A Star is Reborn!

Starburst (and I don’t mean the candy) mirrors are definitely in right now, especially in gold. In fact, the color gold is in vogue at the moment as well, we’ll talk about that in a later post.

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The history of the starburst mirror goes back sometime, at least as far back as the Venetian Republic and that’s a long long time ago to you and me. But just because something has been around a long time doesn’t mean that it’s not good anymore. Look at Abe Vigoda for example! Some would say he gets better with age!

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In any case, the starburst mirror is having a major comeback at the moment. They come in all different sizes and prices which is great for us. No matter if you have a small narrow wall or a large expansive one, there’s a perfect starburst just waiting for its’ chance to shine in your space. Here’s a few that I found today ranging in price from $35 to $140:

This one is from Lamps Plus and is $140, but it’s quite large at 40.5″ round. It weighs over 8 pounds but free shipping is included. This is perfect for that large space between two windows or above your bed (see the pic below). While the actual functionality of the mirror may not be as useful since the reflective surface is only 10″ round, but who cares! You’re not buying this mirror to do your make-up or style your hair.

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Similarly priced is this choice from Home Decorators Collection.  It is $139, but shipping will cost you an extra $9, but it is slightly smaller at 35.5″ round. This mirror has a more aged gold leaf finish to it that adds a bit of the Renaissance to your room.

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Suzanne Kasler designed this classic starburst mirror below and it’s a great deal at $99 from Ballard Designs. This mirror is 21″ in diameter and perfect for that smaller wall, maybe above a side or end table.

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Here’s a very affordable option from Target for only $35. Also a smaller choice at 23″, the rays or bursts are a much more delicate and thinner style. This mirror may really pop on a dark colored wall where the thin lines can stand out more.

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Sometimes Moore means Less . . .

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Benjamin Moore that is! So let’s talk about paint brands.

The big ones are Behr (Home Depot), Valspar (Lowe’s), Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, Glidden, and Olympic. There are more brands out there like Ralph Lauren and Martha Stewart, but in truth each brand is made by another, they’re all related . . . so to speak.

Let’s get the boring statistics out of the way first. Here’s the JD Power rankings of best consumer paint brands:

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Now I’ve done my fair share of painting and every time I do, about half way through the project, I remember why I hate painting so much! No matter what size the room, small or large, it’s the same amount of work to me. The actual act of painting the physical color on the wall takes just a few minutes really, depending on how much cutting in and edging you have to do. The BIGGER pain is all the mess and clean up that comes along with it. Set up the drop cloth, shake the paint, open the paint, stir the paint, pour the paint into the tray, open the ladder, get your brush ready, dip it NOT TOO MUCH, scrape some off, paint, dip it NOT TOO MUCH . . . well you get the idea. If that’s where it ended it wouldn’t be so bad. But then once you’re done painting for the day, or even after one coat, you have to clean everything up! Pour the leftover paint back into the can (I know you’re not supposed to do that because it contaminates the paint – I’m not made of money though so back goes the paint), hammer the can shut, pick up the tarp BE CAREFUL NOT TO KNOCK OVER THE WET BRUSHES, pack up all the trays and rollers and head down to the wash basin, rinse everything out DON’T USE HOT WATER YOU’LL RUIN THE BRUSH (but of course cold water does nothing), dry the brush . . . you get the idea again. In any case, it may not be the most difficult thing to do around your home, but it sure is one of the most time consuming. Wait, weren’t we talking about pain brands? Back to that.

Needless to say I’ve painted my fair share of rooms (that’s where we were). I’ve used the cheapest paint money could buy and some of the most expensive. There really should be some sort of scale in all the paint stores and home improvement centers that has a dollar amount from low to high and then a paint brand below it that corresponds to the cost above. There could even be a third line that goes from watery to pudding or thin to thick paint! Basically the cheaper the paint the more watery it usually is, the more expensive the paint, the thicker it is. And quality paint is all about thickness, or to be technical viscosity.

In my not so expert painting opinion the thickest paint I have ever used, as backed up by the JD Power study, is Benjamin Moore. Now you may be saying that’s great, but Benjamin Moore is a bit pricey, I think their cheapest level paint is still about $50 a gallon. Now this is where the title Moore means Less comes in. Yes, while $50 a gallon is a lot of money, it will cover your walls a heck of a lot better and last a lot longer than the cheaper $25-30 a gallon brands will. Plus, if you’re really good, you only need one coat of Benjamin Moore paint where you may need 2 or 3 coats of the cheaper brands, and that right there is worth big savings in both time and money! I’ve said it on this blog before, but when it comes to paint, you really do get what you pay for. There’s nothing worse than edging a room and having that long watery drip go down your wall because you saved $5 a gallon on the cheaper paint (oh yes, and to get the $5 back you have to mail in the proof of purchase and your receipt, and I’m sure we ALL do that right!?!). Even worse is not noticing until after it has dried that your paint is running in globs down the edge, nothing to really fix it at that point.

Now if you can’t bring yourself to spend $50+ on a gallon of paint that’s quite understandable. There’s no need to spend that much on primer or ceiling paint, as long as your careful about the globing effect in corners. It’s fine to buy the cheaper stuff to lay down as a base coat. You could also try buying a better quality of the cheaper brands and see how that works for you. Meaning, usually paint companies like Behr have 3 different qualities or levels of paint, basic, mid-level, and high end. Maybe try the middle one if price is an issue and see how that goes on. Spending even just a few extra bucks could make all the difference in your room!

I have other great painting tips, like buy the most expensive brushes you can afford so the bristles don’t fall out, and what type of finish to pick for which room, or how to edge around molding and corners, or how putting your brushes in the freezer between coats can save on cleaning time . . . but we’ll cover that some other day!